The Nail: Devils Beat Caps 2-1

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.

During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.

The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.

Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.

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Grabo lives! (Photo: @scarletcaps)

When we last got an update about Mikhail Grabovski‘s status, we heard from the translated horse’s mouth that he wasn’t planning to skate for another two weeks, putting off a potential return until early April.

“I feel good, but the doctors say the rehab isn’t over,” Grabovski said last Monday to Tribuna’s Vadim Knyrko. “Don’t expect me on the ice for the next two weeks.”

Just seven days later, Grabo returned to said ice to skate a full practice session for the first time since February 27th, a morning skate in Florida. Grabovski, who has missed 20 of the last 21 games due to a sprained left ankle injury which he then re-injured in his first shift back against the Panthers, skated as an extra on the Caps’ fourth line.

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Photo: Elsa

In his first season (of, hopefully, many) as a Washington Capital, Mikhail Grabovski has been one of the team’s most dependable players. He scored a hat trick in his first game, leads all forwards in possession, and is second only to Jay Beagle at winning face-offs. So when Grabovski went down with an ankle injury against the New Jersey Devils, the Capitals suffered a big loss.

Grabovski re-injured that same ankle one month later against the Florida Panthers on his first shift back on the ice. Since then Grabovski has not skated and Caps head coach Adam Oates has been noncommittal on when the Belarusian center would return.

On Monday, Tribuna’s Vadim Knyrko caught up with Grabovski and asked him about his injury. Grabovski revealed that he isn’t going to skate for another two weeks, pushing his return — at the earliest — into early April, the very end of the Caps’ season. That’s not good. Grabo also is not pleased with Bryce Salvador.

Fedor Fedin has your translation.

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A month and three days ago, the Washington Capitals lost one of their best players when Mikhail Grabovski injured his ankle after being taken down from behind by New Jersey Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador.

It was a long rehab for Grabo. After missing 8 games, the Belarusian center returned in the Caps’ first game back after the Olympics. His first shift was basically a disaster.

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The best deeds are the ones unseen. Unfortunately for injured Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski, I was at Kettler today and totally saw this.

Grabo left the ice after a brief work-out with fellow injured teammate Jack Hillen and started walking towards the locker room. That’s when he heard around 25 children screaming his name. He smiled.

Grabovski turned around and brought some gifts along with him, two fully-taped sticks he had just used on the ice during practice. One stick he handed to a kid in the front row; the other he tossed to the back for the kids fight over.

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The hit that injuried Green. (Photo: Jamie Sabau)

Injuries could sink the Washington Capitals. Just as they started to bounce back from the seven game losing streak, three players have been forced from the lineup.

First, Mikhail Grabovski twisted his ankle when he was hauled down in the crease. There’s no timetable for his return and he isn’t traveling with the team.

Next, Mike Green got hit up high by Boone Jenner in the second period on Thursday. Green’s head was slammed violently into the end boards. He appeared shaken and didn’t return to the game. Green missed Friday’s contest in Detroit.

Finally, Brooks Laich was shut down in the third period on Friday after his groin “was getting a little tight,” according to head coach Adam Oates. That’s bad news for Brooks, who missed almost all of last season with the injury. The forward claimed they had finally found the cause, but after missed practices and now missed game time, that’s clearly not the case.

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Standings Free Fall: Devils Top Caps 2-1

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Ugh. (Photo: Andy Marlin)

Just like Alex Ovechkin, ya boy Peter was out with an injury tonight. Undisclosed for those asking. I’m nursing the flu. We’re sort of like the Caps of Caps blogs right now.

Embarking on five game road trip with their dads in tow, the Caps headed to newly Cory Booker-less Newark for date with the Devils. Allowing the fewest shots per game in the NHL and featuring the blue-hot Cory Schneider, New Jersey didn’t look like great opponent to get Washington’s hapless offense going. They weren’t. Yep, it’s gonna be one of those again.

As usual these days, the game got off to a horrid start. Five minutes in, Dmitry Orlov made another silly mistake, fumbling the puck in the Caps offensive zone. Steven Gionta and Ryan Carter went the other way on the odd-man break. Shockingly, Mike Green did not misplay the 2-on-1. It wasn’t enough. The puck snuck past Michal Neuvirth off the blade of Gionta.

Early in the second, Adam Henrique put the Devs up by two with Orlov in the box for holding. Jaromir Jagr made the play, fabulously skating through the Capitals defense before feeding the puck in front for his second assist of the game. Facing this Capitals offense, it looked like that was all New Jersey needed.

Jason Chimera, however, had other ideas. Midway through the third, he deflected a John Erskine shot from the point for his third goal in seven games. It wasn’t enough though.

Seven in a row. Devils top Caps 2-1.

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Without their captain Alex Ovechkin on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals were listless against the Ottawa Senators, getting shutout 2-0. It was their sixth straight loss. It looks like things could get a whole lot worse.

In the second period of the Caps’ second straight game without Ovi, Mikhail Grabovski fell awkwardly on his left leg after being taken down from behind by Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador.

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

You can understand their frustration. About to lose their sixth game in a row, the Washington Capitals had good reason to be grumpy. Despite improving play at even strength, the team was still beset by penalties and unable to score. Down 2-0 with ten minutes remaining, Mikhail Grabovski was effectively ejected from the game with a two-minute roughing penalty and a ten-minute game misconduct.

Apparently that’s the punishment you get when you nearly gouge out the eyes of your opponent.

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Caps Get Chances, But Not Goals, Against Sharks

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates has been searching for five-on-five production all season. While Alex Ovechkin has thrived, other members of top six have been less consistent. After the first period on Tuesday, Oates had a new iteration for the first two lines: Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich-Mikahil Grabovksi-Alex Ovechkin.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals the last couple games and he’s looking for a spark,” Laich told me of Oates’s change. “Our line had a couple of good chances.”

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